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What is parenting coordination?

What is parenting coordination?
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Reviewed: 
July 31, 2017
Answer

Parenting coordination is an alternative dispute resolution process. Parents can meet with a parenting coordinator for help with following the parts of their court order, family arbitration award, or separation agreement that are about parenting.

Parenting coordination is voluntary. This means that parents need to agree to the process. You cannot be forced to use it.

A parenting coordinator is a person who helps parents resolve day-to-day conflicts about their parenting arrangements or parenting orders.

For example, if your court order says that your children have to spend an equal amount of time with each parent over the summer, a parenting coordinator can help you figure out a summer schedule.

A parenting coordinator doesn't decide major things like custody or access. But they can decide minor issues like:

  • small changes to a parenting access plan such as vacations and holidays
  • scheduling activities and arranging for pick up and drop off to activities like ballet, hockey, or tutoring
  • children's travel and passport arrangements
  • how your children's clothing and school items are moved between your and your partner's homes

A parenting coordinator helps you speak with each other to try and agree on your parenting issues. If you can't agree, they can decide for you. Their decision is based on information they get from the parents, professionals such as doctors, teachers, counsellors, etc., and, if needed, your child.

The process is similar to mediation-arbitration. But the parenting coordinator cannot make major decisions. Their job is to help you follow the parts of your court order, family arbitration award, or separation agreement that are about parenting.

Parenting coordinators are trained to:

  • understand the needs of children
  • help each parent discuss their parenting issues
  • help parents to manage and keep children out of conflicts

Some social workers and other mental health professionals are trained to be parenting coordinators.

If a parenting coordinator has to decide an issue, it is called a "secondary arbitration". This type of arbitration means that the parenting coordinator doesn't have to follow all of the rules a typical "family arbitration" has to follow.

For example, you can sign an agreement to use a parenting coordinator if you disagree in the future. This means you can set up a process even before a problem comes up. This is allowed in secondary arbitration but not family arbitration.

You also don't need to have independent legal advice (ILA) because you already have a court order, family arbitration award, or separation agreement, before you work with a parenting coordinator.

But it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer. And many parenting coordinators will only agree to work with you if you have ILA from a lawyer. Your lawyer usually doesn't go to parenting coordination with you, but they can advise you on:

  • how the law applies to your situation
  • who might be a good parenting coordinator
  • your parenting coordination agreement

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